The People You Surround Yourself With

When I was religious, countless speakers would lament the influence of horrid TV on our inner psyches, discouraging the observant from watching current shows and movies. Some didn’t even listen to modern music, lest they be lured to unseemly thoughts and deeds.

And don’t get me started on the people they’d spend time with.

When I stopped wearing skirts all the time and uncovered my hair (four years into my first marriage, circa 2004), several women I had called friends promptly ceased calling me or spending time with me. Sure, it hurt, but more than that it opened my eyes to the impact of our surroundings.

There was some sliver of truth behind that anti-modern-communication sentiment. Who and what we surround ourselves with has huge impact on our demeanor, our inner peace, and our sense of confidence and right. I’ve spent years carefully cultivating the kind of friends I deem worthy of my time and uplifting for my mental state.

And unfortunately, I’ve let relationships go that didn’t serve me in a positive way. There’s nothing worse than a debbie-downer friend who just brings you down the moment her frown enters the room.

So what if those negative influencers are family, neighbors or colleagues?

Even more important – and even harder to shed.

I’m lucky. I own the business, so I can control the kind of people we add to our team. There’s almost too much joviality in my office most days, and that surely leads all of us to satisfaction on the job and in our work.

Sometimes, though, I’ll come across a relationship that somehow didn’t find its way out the door and get sucked into the swirl of discontent. It happened the other day. A person expressed disappointment in my lack of attention to what she deemed important and for that conversation, I was pulled into the gale-force of the tornado, apologizing and feeling bad.

The minute I hung up the phone, though, I pulled out of the fog. What the heck? This person full of complaints had dropped her side of the game more times than I could count and you didn’t see me calling to complain. I’d accepted her choice as exactly that: a choice that other people in her life were more important than me. So be it. What can you do? Certainly not waste time worrying over the inevitable drifting that happens when our lives get busier and we are forced to make choices.

All week, I’ve pondered how I could sucked into the whorl. Really. I mean, I have barely any time to work out as much as I’d like – how can I devote time to ruminating over the ins and outs of relationships and self-righteous indignation?

Some people just have that influence over us. And so I go back to the admonition of my religious compatriots a lifetime ago – the people you surround yourself with DO impact your life. Sometimes in ways we can’t get out of.

We get one chance at this life. Even if we do come back in several lifetimes, this is our shot at this particular form. Why waste time worrying over what others think? Why pander to those who simply don’t understand you, or relate to you at the level where you live?

I can’t see one good reason. It only serves to muddy up our days and cloud our view of the real purpose of life: to make a difference and to make this world better. You can’t do it if you’re walking around in a cloud of self-doubt and hurt feelings.

Cherish those who lift you up, who inspire you to be a better person, whose mere presence feels like a shining light all around you. Emulate those relationships and pay it forward everything you get from them.

And as far as the downers go, try your best not to get sucked into the maelstrom. It’s just not worth a precious moment of emotion wasted.

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